tv Democracy Now PBS February 13, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
[captioning made possible by democracy now!] from pacifica this is democracy now! >> this has been a week off soaring bloodshed and casualties in syria. we have received reports that at 277 civilians were killed. 230 of these people were killed in airstrikes by the syrian government and their allies. in addition, 812 people were injured. amy: "it's hard to believe, but syria's war is getting even worse."
that is the headline of a new article about escalating crashes -- clashes on syrian soil. we will speak with the author, new york times beirut bureau chief and with canadian -- a canadian researcher. as the deadly flu sweeps across the united states, will go to austin, texas, to speak with austin city councilmember gregorio casar where the council is set to vote on an historic ordinance for mandated paid sick leave. >> the infection rate has decreased by 6% or 7%. getare twice as likely to everybody else sick. workers fromnt
having six -- sick leave. amy: can they overcome the opposition of a koch brothers based lobbying group? all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president trump unveiled his $4.4 trillion budget plan monday, proposing deep cuts to education, healthcare, and social safety net programs, while massively increasing the pentagon's budget. trump's plan would slash the department of education's budget by more than 10%. it would sharply reduce income-based student loan repayment plans, while ending the public service loan forgiveness program. trump's budget would cut more than $17 billion from the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or snap, barring food stamp recipients from buying fresh fruit and
vegetables. instead, providing only a boxed food delivery program. the budget would also phase out federal funding for the corporation for public broadcasting, which supports public and community radio and tv stations. this comes as mcclatchy reports the trump administration is considering a plan that would not only impose work requirements for medicaid enrollees, but which would also put a lifetime limit on adults' access to medicaid. meanwhile, trump's budget would see a 13% rise in spending on weapons in war, bringing the pentagon's budget to $686 billion. the administration says its plan would add $7.1 trillion to u.s. budget deficits over the next decade, though many economists say that number relies on rosy projections. the budget comes less than two months after trump signed into law one of the largest tax cuts
in u.s. history, one that overwhelmingly favors the wealthies americans. on capitol hill, the senate convened a rare open debate monday on immigration, as hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the united states as children face a march deadline, when the trump administration will begin canceling the daca program, or deferred action for childhood arrivals. the senate debate comes without a bill currently on the floor; it follows congress's passage of a spending bill last week that did not contain protections for dreamers, a key demand of immigrants rights activists. the white house refused to answer questions monday about how it has handled the accusations of domestic violence against former staff secretary rob porter, who resigned last week after two of his ex-wives accused him of verbal and physical abuse. press secretary sarah huckabee sanders said top officials that not know the extent of the allegations against porter until
last tuesday. that is despite reports that chief of staff, general john kelly, new love the allegations since november, while the white new of theel -- allegations since november, while the white house counsel new of the allegations one year ago. in syria, the united nations warns civilians are being killed and wounded at a rapid pace, as fighting between government forces and rebels rages around the damascus suburb of eastern ghouta. this is saif abu anas, an activist in the town of saqba east of damascus. are inu anas: today we the seventh day of the assault. there are almost 260 martyrs, hundreds of injured people, most of whom are women and children. yesterday we saw the massacre at night and the mask of it happened three days ago where 20 people were killed, and also the destruction and death we saw where whole neighborhoods are being destroyed. violence comes
amidst a series of clashes and externalnal problem -- powers including israel, iran, and the syrian government. we will have more on syria after deadlines. the white house is denying reports that the trump administration has been openly discussing an israeli plan to formally annex palestinian lands in the occupied west bank. a spokesperson for the right-wing likud party quoted prime minister benjamin netanyahu as saying in a closed-door session, quote, "on the subject of applying sovereignty, i can say that i have been talking to the americans about it for some time," he said, unquote. israel's west bank settlements are illegal under international law, and any move to annex palestinian territory would be a further violation of the geneva conventions. white house spokesperson josh raffel on monday called any reports that the u.s. discussed annexation with israel "false", opening a rare public rift between president trump and prime minister netanyahu.
in moscow, russian president vladimir putin welcomed palestinian president mahmoud abbas to the kremlin monday, for talks that could reshape diplomatic efforts to end the israeli-palestinian conflict. speaking to reporters, abbas said he could no longer accept the united states as a mediator, after the trump administration declared it would recognize jerusalem as israel's capital and began moving the u.s. embassy there from tel aviv. >> in such an atmosphere, we refuse to operate with the u.s. in its status as a mediator. in israel, a military court is convening a trial today for ahed tamimi, a teenage girl who became a hero to palestinians after viral video showed her slapping a soldier near her family's home in the occupied west bank. the incident came just after ahed tamimi learned her 15-year-old cousin, mohammed tamimi, had been shot in the head by an israeli soldier with
a rubber-coated steel bullet at close range. ahed tamimi faces 12 charges, including assaulting a soldier and incitement to violence. her father, bassem tamimi, said monday he doesn't expect his daughter to receive a fair trial. >> we don't expect justice from this court. they are trying to maximize thee controlled by extreme right wing public opinion. they are pushing for the maxim sentence because they want to break the example of resistance. they don't want ahed to become a leading example for palestinians. in the south pacific, the island nation of tonga was left devastated monday, after a major cyclone made landfall, leveling homes, flooding neighborhoods, and flattening the kingdom's parliament building. tropical cyclone gita arrived monday evening with winds of 145 miles per hour, far higher than
forecasters had predicted. the storm made landfall as a new report found sea level rise due to human-driven climate change is happening now. the report found sea level's have risen by an average of nearly three inches over the past quarter century. the storm is the worst in more than 60 years. in south africa, the ruling african national congress party has given president jacob zuma 48 hours to resign, or face the prospect of being recalled from office. zuma has come under increasing pressure to resign in recent weeks amid mounting accusations of widespread corruption. back in the united states, the trump administration has acknowledged it will not investigate complaints filed by transgender students who are barred from using bathrooms matching their gender identity. in a statement to buzzfeed news, an official with the the department of education argued transgender students are not
protected by title 9, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex. in a statement, eliza byard, the director of the transgender student rights group glsen said trump administration's quote, "cruel new policy flies in the face of the highest court rulings on this issue, which found unequivocally that denying transgender students appropriate bathroom access is a violation of title ix." the trump administration has been working secretly with a radical anti-abortion group on policies that make it easier for states to defund planned parenthood. politico reports that last month, the department of health and human services announced changes that will allow states to exclude planned parenthood from medicaid programs, a policy shift that came shortly after the department of health and human services received a draft legal analysis from the organization alliance defending freedom, which has been designated a hate group by the southern poverty law center.
in a statement, planned parenthood's executive vice president dawn laguens called the news "shocking and outrageous" adding, quote, "the alliance defending freedom has spent decades trying to take away women's access to health care and ability to control their own bodies and lives. the trump-pence administration has embraced this group's philosophy and handed them the pen to make official u.s. government policy." the trump administration's nominee to head the 2020 census has withdrawn from consideration, after an outcry by civil rights groups and many democrats. thomas brunell, a university of texas-at-dallas political science professor, is a staunch defender of republican redistricting efforts, including congressional maps in pennsylvania, north carolina and other states that federal courts have recently ruled unconstitutionally favor republicans. brunell stepped down from consideration as critics say the trump administration is hoping to use the 2020 census to lock
in republican majorities for a decade. this is journalist ari berman, speaking on democracy now! last -- about his rolling stone article titled, "how the gop rigs elections." ari: so, if the census is manipulative for political purposes or the count is done wrong there is no way to fix it because it is supposed to be the final word to determine how districts are drawn, -- this is one of the most important things the federal government has done every 10 years since 1790 and it is facing unprecedented threats from the trump administration. amy: fox news has removed a racist and homophobic op-ed from its website following international outcry. in a piece published friday with the start of the 2018 winter olympics, fox news executive editor john moody wrote, quote, "the motto of the olympics, since 1894, has been 'faster, higher, stronger.
it appears the u.s. olympic committee would like to change that to 'darker, gayer, different.' if your goal is to win medals, that won't work." fox news later removed the op-ed from its website, saying moody's piece didn't reflect the "views or values" of the network. in a statement, sarah kate ellis, president of the lgbtq rights group glaad called on moody and fox news to apologize, adding, quote, "these athletes are at the olympics because they already won by qualifying to represent the united states on the world's stage; and they did so despite facing discrimination from places like fox news throughout their careers. attorney general jeff sessions drew outrage and condemnation monday, when he referred to the "anglo american heritage" of u.s. law enforcement. sessions made the remark in a speech to the national sheriff'' association's winter conference in washington, d.c. attorney general sessions: the
office of sheriff is a critical part of the anglo-american history of law enforcement. amy: a spokesperson defended the comment saying the phrase "anglo court,n law" appears in and in a statement, the naacp called attorney general sessions' remarks the "latest example of dog whistle politics", adding, quote, "his stances at doj regarding their reversal of support for cases against voter suppression to his attempted to withdrawal from consent decrees to reign in police misconduct and the decision to return to polices including mandatory minimums that played a key role in the expansion of mass incarceration, are powerful examples of why communities of color must pay attention to what he does and what he says," the naacp said. in wisconsin, prosecutors have brought felony charges against three milwaukee county jail staffers over the death of 38-year-old terrill thomas, a
prisoner who died of extreme dehydration after he spent a week without access to water in a solitary confinement jail cell. at the time of thomas' death, the jail was overseen by sheriff david clarke, a staunch supporter of donald trump who has compared the black lives matter movement to the ku klux klan. in west virginia, lawmakers are under fire for ordering the removal of a citizen from the state capitol, after she called out the names of state politicians who've accepted campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. lisa lucas was speaking friday during a public comment session at the west virginia house judiciary committee. lisa lucas: people that are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry, and people voting on this bill are also often paid by the industry -- r example, and i have to keep it short, simple because the blic only gets one minute, 45 seconds, while lobbyists can throw a gala at the marriott
with whiskey and wine and talk for hours to delegates. to keep it short, on the judiciary committee, charlotte lynn, about $10,000 from gas and aep,nterests, including marathon, firstenergy dominion, and i can go on. amy: as lucas listed the names of other lawmakers who've received campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, republican committee chair john shott had her microphoneut and ordered her to be physically removed. she was taken out by security. and in france, computer giant apple has asked a court in paris to bar tax campaigners from holding protests at its stores. since december, members of the group attac have been staging demonstrations at apple stores in paris calling for an end to apple's complex efforts to avoid paying european union taxes. this is tax activist aurelie trouve. aurelie trouve: the world's biggest
multinational company practices tax evasion. we had a nerve since apple cannot tolerate it image being harmed. they filed an urgent court order against us through what is called a gag order, meaning that -- at least this is what they are asking -- we will have to pay 150,000 euros if we hold future demonstrations against an apple store. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: and i am one gonzales. welcome to our viewers around the world. we begin today's show with the ongoing war in syria.tensions across northern syria are escalating sharply, amid a series of clashes between external and internal powers, including israel, iran, turkey , russia and the syrian , government. on saturday, israel shot down what it says was an iranian drone that had entered israel's airspace after being launched in -- from syria.
israel then mounted an attack on an iranian command center in syria, from where the drone was launched. one of the israeli f-16 military jets was then downed by a syrian government anti-aircraft missile. saturday's events marks the first israeli jet shot down since the 1980's. it is also believed to be the first time israel has carried out an attack in syria on a site where iranian troops were present. on tuesday, the syrian government warned israel it would face "more surprises" if it launches future attacks inside syria. meanwhile, also in northern syria on saturday, a turkish army helicopter was shot down by u.s.-backed syrian kurdish ypg fighters near the syrian kurdish city of afrin, where turkey has launched a bombing and ground offensive. all this comes as the united nations is warning of soaring levels of civilian casualties in syria. this is u.n. high commissioner for human rights spokesperson elizabeth throssell.
elizabeth throssell: this has been a week of soaring violence and bloodshed in syria -- more than 1000 civilian casualties in six days. we have seen reports that at least 277 civilians have been killed. 230 of these people were killed in air strikes by the syrian government and their allies. in addition, 812 people were injured. the united nations is warning civilians have been killed and wounded at a rapid an escalation in the syrian rebel bombing in a suburb of damascus. at least 200 civilians have reportedly been killed in the last week alone. well, for more, we're joined now by three guests. a u.s. -- and barnard the anne
new york times bureau chief in beirut, lebanon. her recent articles are titled, "israel strikes iran in syria and loses a jet" and "it's hard to believe, but syria's war is getting even worse" you begin by saying half a dozen newborns, blinking and arching their backs were carried by a hospital by airstrikes. withs doused patients water after a suspected chlorine attack. that was just a fraction of the violence this week in northern syria, you write. so, first, let's talk about what you found on the ground. you were just recently there. then, this global set of countries that continue to pummel syria. well, thank you so much
first of all, for being interested in this subject. it is very important that it continues to be talked about. i have to correct one thing -- i was not in syria since about one year ago, and the reason for that is i am constantly applying for a visas, but the syrian government is quite unpredictable and restrictive about when it grants visas to foreign journalists. once you are that you cannot operate freely anyway. just to know, we have covered recent events from here in beirut, and through an extensive network of contacts on all sides inside syria, but yes, it has .een an unbelievable week what you need to know to put this in even more perspective is yes, there has been a spike in deaths and civilian casualties. there was a period from last
week, monday through friday, there were 230 people killed, mostly civilians, and 1000 casualties. actually,s a lot, but over most of the last seven years, those kinds of death tolls are happening all the time -- maybe at a slower pace, but in these places civilians are under attack constantly, and hospitals are under attack. there is a very difficult problem in getting humanitarian aid access, and it is happening syria, and thein attempts to take back rebel-held areas has been intensified by a bombing campaign that has taken a heavy toll on civilians that are already tired, malnourished, may have been displaced already many times. it has really been a tough week. juan: well, most of the media
attention in the united states has focused on the war against once the declaration that most of the isis enclaves have been defeated, the attention has largely dropped from the u.s. media. what has happened since the so-called defeat of isis -- how has the war in syria transformed? ari: -- anne: well, you are exactly right. isis.s. focus has been on with the framework of the war on terror, but the u.s. war did not begin with isis and i think it is a mistake in mission accomplished moment to claim that isis has been defeated because many fighters have gone underground and their ideology, of course, is continuing to assert itself in some places. since then, what the relative
defeat of isis has unleashed is the ability of the syrian government and its allies -- russia and he ran, -- iran turned their attention fully back to fighting the rebels who have already been on the run, and it is very complicated because there are different patches of areas around the country that are not connected to each other, controlled by different rebel groups, islamist groups, some al qaeda linked groups. you are talking about many wars within a word, but what has happened is that now the government is able to focus on those battles and, you know, in a sense, the rest of the world cares less about that than they did about isis because they thought isis was a threat to themselves. amy: so, at the beginning of this conversation we talked about just what happened among the major countries that are bombing syria.
again, israel shooting down what drone, is an iranian attacking the command center for the drone. then one of the israeli f-16 military jets were downed. saturday's event marking the first israeli jet shot down since the 1980's. it is also believed to be the first time israel carried out an attack in syria in a site where you iranian troops were -- where iranian troops were present. can you talk about the significance of all of this? anne: yes, this is the second consequence of the end of the territorial fight against the islamic state. many of the international powers, as well as the syrian government and some of its opponents within syria were all against each other in a way, but united against the islamic
state, and they launched competing campaigns to defeat the islamic state, raising one another to take its territory. once the islamic state was taken out in syria, those different combatants are finding those interests are coming to the four again. you see turkey going against syrian kurdish groups. you see even confrontations between turkey and the united states over the united states backing for kurdish militias that turkey sees as terrorists and the united states sees as its best ally in syria. big question that thehas upset both allies and enemies by saying it wants to remain in areas taken by u.s.-backed militias in the northeast of syria. israel has been bombing targets in syria throughout the war with relative impunity. this is the first time syrian government has managed to shoot down a jet. allies, have syria's
russia and iran, which have differing views about how the future of syria should be laid out, and i am probably forgetting to mention somebody. i fear we may be getting to a phase in the syrian war where all the foreign intervenors are turning it into an arena to fight amongst each other, really regardless of what syrians want and the effect on syrians, and unfortunately that will go on for a long time. amy: we'll go to break, then come back to this discussion, where we will be joined, in addition to anne barnard, by yazan al-saadi, syrian-canadian researcher. this is democracy now. back with them in a moment. ♪ [music break]
gonzalez. we turn to syria. at least 200 civilians have been reportedly killed in the last week alone. we are joined now by yazan al-saadi, syrian-canadian writer and researcher. and still with us is anne barnard, from the new york times, a bureau chief from beirut, lebanon. anne, i want to begin again with you to ask you about the role of hezbollah. obviously has below was widely involved in the fighting in syria, has undoubtably grown stronger as a result. can you talk about its role particularly in the conflict and the concerns of israel over the growth of hezbollah? hezbollah entered
the war overtly and in a, sort of, in a night for missionary force in 2013, and that was a big surprise because this was a group founded to fight israeli occupation in the south of lebanon, not to help put down uprisings in other countries. nonetheless, because of their close alliance with damascus and toronto, hezbollah entered the war first in areas that made sense for it in a local sense. they first focused on areas near shrineanese border, the near damascus, which is paid -- particularly revered by shiites. gradually, their role expanded. they were a much more effective pound for pound force than the syrian military and they helped in battles steadily across the country. nobody mentioned -- imagined a
few years ago that hezbollah would end up fighting in aleppo and seven syria. the southern syria part is the biggest issue. there has always been conflict between hezbollah and israel and conflicts across the lebanese border, but now hezbollah is entrenching itself increasingly in areas in the southern part of syria, bordering theoccupied go. to israel.ig concern at the same time, the syrian government accuses israel of trying to increase its own buffer zone, and that has been a real flashpoint. that really exploded on saturday, not as badly as it could have been, though, because it seems to have been contained to this one incident. there is an iranian presence. they are deeply involved with the war effort. that is something israel has been trying to counter
throughout the conflict, and i think we are only going to see more tensions around that. amy: yazan al-saadi, we want to bring this -- you into this conversation. you are a syrian-canadian writer and researcher. we are talking to you in kuwait. talk about the situation in syria, in your country, as you see it. wow. al-saadi: all right. tragic, andtely what you are saying is all these actors, whether it is the syrian regime, the bush are dictatorship, or the putin regime, the trump regime, and the apartheid zionist regime destroying the syrian population. what we are seeing is basically a complete annihilation of the struggle for syrian self-determination by various communities within the country.
you see a complete devastation of a society. the health care system is gone. most half of the population are refugees or amputees, and it is devastated. what we are witnessing in syria -- we need to remember this as well -- we are witnessing the failure of international mechanisms to hold states accountable. exceptional to syria. we have seen this before in places like iraq, palestine, congo, even in myanmar now with the rohingya. what you want -- if you want a sound bite what we are saying is the power over people. it's this is something that will continue -- this is something that will continue in syria and other places as long as government and states are allowed to do what they do. if populationsnd around the world start mobilizing and pressuring their own governments to stop these
types of actions -- to not allow power to dominate over people. if we don't do that, we will see the tragedy of syria continue for a long time and you will see other tragedies in other places around the world. that is what is happening. the: i wanted to ask about role of bashar al-assad. many of the western powers calling for regime change to end the civil war -- that has dropped off the table for a lot of them in terms of the ongoing conflict. can you talk about that as well? yeah, of course. i am not surprised they dropped off the table. western governments really don't care about dictatorships, in fact, they are a fan. there are business interests with dictatorships. inn these protests happened 20 11 in a region where you had a large mobilization in different countries by different people to pressure change
against dictatorships, but western governments don't really care. let's be frank about this. basharn't really care if stays or not. should he go? obviously, it is a dictatorship. but it cannot happen through the idea of western intervention or western forms of regime change because we have seen what happens in libya and iraq. there needs to be an international form to hold dictatorship accountable, whoever they are -- whether they are allies to the west or allies to putin. this is a larger question we really need to talk about. the escalation in syria comes as the pentagon has indicated it plans to recruit and train thousands of u.s.-backed kurdish fighters in syria to form a border security force in northern syria along the border with turkey.
kurdish-backed syrian fighters already control large swaths of syria. the significance of this -- we talked about what happened in the last week. you have the israeli plane shot down, the turkish plane shot down -- etc.. u.s. plan, like all u.s. plants is going to be disastrous. furthering u.s. interests and presence around the world. course, with the arm's-length of the pyd -- armed wing of the pyd will not be helpful for kurdish self determination, and i do believe they have every right for self-determination like every community around the web. with the u.s. is interested in is to have a hand in the geography.
what we have seen over and over again, every time the u.s. has a certain plan of backing armed groups it is disastrous, whether it is the contras in latin america, the armed groups in iraq, and whatever else. it will be a disaster and we see bits of that now with everyone shooting everyone. juan: i would like to go back to anne barnard for a second, the new york times bureau chief in beirut. all of these foreign governments having their forces and their planes in syria -- can you talk about whether the potential is increasing where decreasing for some kind of a conflict between the outside parliament -- powers spreading beyond syria? well, that is certainly the danger, and just to build on saying,an al-saadi was the reason that the international community, as such it is, has not been able to come deadlockedsus is the
security council and we start from a situation where russia and the united states are completely deadlocked on issues as basic as human rights -- they cannot agree on anything. now they are each backing a society in syria which sees itself fighting and existential battle. at the same time, this is also very much for russia about restoring its great power status encountering the u.s. in a keystone area of the middle east. port. has interest on its a russia has a lot of interests there. russia has clearly put more skin in the game in the united states has, and at the same can be not states has now expanded its commitment, perhaps indefinitely, in northeastern syria. the problem is that even though there is a deacon flexion process, which is supposed to prevent competing air forces from clashing with each other or
having small incidents that could escalate, mistakes happen. a serious incident -- more for mission is unfolding week,it -- from last where u.s. forces hit a pro-government force that was initially described to us by a syrian government force as a pro-government, syrian shiite militia. now it is coming out that many, maybe scores of russian contractors were killed. the kremlin is saying we don't know anything about these people -- they are military contractors. they do not work for us. this is the russian version of blackwater. the idea there are large numbers of groups working for those who in the same arena where american troops are is very risky, and that is not to mention that turkey, as i mentioned before, and the united states -- turkey
has threatened to attack an area where u.s. troops are there on the ground with the kurdish militias. you have the process of two nato allies. ,ou have the israeli, iran hezbollah is that we talked about before. it is getting more and more dangerous. in a world where collective action seems to be impossible, it seems everyone that on the idea that syria was containable and we could let people die and let it stay within the borders of syria and some countries consider that to be in their interest. they felt their enemies were killing each other. as you can see, we have a massive refugee crisis affecting europe, a massive crisis affecting neighbors in jordan and turkey, and now we have the possibility of a war between major state powers coming out of this. it seems a can get more dangerous before it comes down. to secretaryo turn
of state rex tillerson speaking at the hoover institution in , which he called iran a strategic threat to the united states, and used this alleged threat as justification for keeping u.s. troops in syria. secretary tillerson: continued threats to the u.s. not just from isis and al qaeda, but others exist and indispensable he threw iran -- as part of its strategy, iran has straightened its presence in syria by groups,g iranian supporting lebanese has below, and importing proxy forces from iraq, pakistan, and elsewhere. syria, its position in iran is continuing to attack u.s. interests, spending billions of dollars of year -- a year to prop up al-assad and
wage proxy wars. u.s. engagement would provide iran the ability to further strengthen its position in syria. we have seen from iran's proxy wars in public announcements, iran seeks dominance in the middle east and the destruction of allies. with a destabilized nation and one boarding israel, syria present an opportunity that iran is all too eager to exploit. amy: yazan al-saadi, if you can respond to the u.s. secretary of state. yazan: there is much to respond. it is funny -- the first thought that comes to mind is yeah, the u.s. is a strategic threat to everyone in this world, especially for self determination of communities around the world. i find his comments quite hilarious. secondly, let's be honest, there said about thene
u.s. and russia not agreeing on basic human rights. that is not surprising in that both countries are major violators of human rights and they don't take human rights seriously. now, this concern about the test by the u.s. about iran is typical in terms of the in-mongering establishment terms of their need to dominate the region. at the same time, let's not ignore iran is a dictatorship, just like every regime in the region -- the syrian regime, the zionist regime, the saudi regime, and others. we are facing this major problem we need to ask what can be done -- how can we accept the status quo because the status quo means bodies, our communities will be paying the price of blood and devastation while politics and power reigned supreme.
me, personally, i don't accept this, and i feel we need to mobilize as various committees to push back against the politics of power, whether it is the u.s., putin, the iranian regime, the syrian dictatorship, the israeli regime, and whoever else. that is the core question here -- the core debate -- it is about self-determination, and that is something we really need to keep our eye on. that means we need to start creating mechanisms of accountability that forces these regimes to accept the power of people, and the rights of people beyond all. ne, a you recently skepticism,13, much in five years on, what it hasn't avoided is indefinite military
commitment, and huge chunk of syria."if you could expand on that and talk about where you are now in beirut, lebanon. what percentage of lebanon is now syrian refugees that have come over the border, not to mention jordan, and other places, and what this means. lebanon as a country of around 4 million people, and there are at least 1.5 million syrian refugees here, so it is more than a quarter of the population, and that is by far the largest proportion of refugees on earth. so, lebanon's bearing a huge brunt, and turkey and jordan also have large numbers of refugees. obviously the region is bearing the brunt more than anyone else. yeah, i think u.s. policy -- it seems a case of neither having your cake nor eating it. --y did not take a step there are a lot of reasons to be
of u.s.l about the idea intervention, but at the same time it is not as if they are not intervening, as yazan al-saadi said earlier. they are intervening in other was about helping syrian civilians. the point is very good -- how can there be a mechanism if -- the whole problem is the great powers, russia, the united states, anyone in power, they don't want them house to be held accountable, -- themselves to be held accountable, so there is no incentive. look what happened when syrian people in people in many other countries in the region tried to speak up and use people power and ask for more rights and more reforms in their countries. almost all of them were defeated by state power in one way or another. it is really a puzzle. i wonder if you have any specific ideas about how things can go differently for ordinary
people who want to make their voices heard. we have seen a lot of idealistic people try, and, you know, you see the result. yazan: of course. yet, people are trying, and they are trying to this day, and we should continue. the most important thing is international solidarity -- working between communities -- whether it is the syrian community -- working within communities within the united states, for example -- let's say the black lives matter -- they are facing injustice and tyranny of the state. i believe in creating ties like that, creating ties between the movement in palestine or what other pro-rights movements within the rank of the -- writing the -- rohingya. we are doing with problems in the national communities, wherever we are.
what is happening in syria is a violent, physical manifestation of that and him continue in other forums in other places as long as power is still power. i do think, like i said earlier, networking and international solidarity is the only way forward. amy: yazan al-saadi, thank you for being with us. and anne barnard, the new york times bureau chief in beirut, lebanon. this is democracy now, democracy now.org, the war and peace report. when we come back, we go to austin texas and look at a leave,e for paid sick the citizens trying to initiate it, and the koch brothers-backed group that is fighting it. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
the bands founder died sunday at the age of 70. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we end today's show with an upcoming vote on mandated paid sick leave in austin, texas. this week marks 25 years since bill clinton signed the family and medical leave act which gave employees in the u.s. the right to unpaid time off to care for themselves and family members. a decade later, san francisco became the first city to approve paid sick leave. today, some 14 million workers in 32 municipalities and nine states have paid sick leave policies. amy: well on thursday, austin , city council members will vote on an ordinance that would make it the first city in the south to require paid sick leave from private employers. but the measure is facing strong opposition from the national federation of independent business, which is fighting paid sick leave causes across the country. this is the same group that led
the fight against the informal care act. well, to talk more about the fight for paid sick leave there, we go now to austin to speak with the council member who introduced the ordinance. gregorio casar is an austin city council member. when he first won election in 2014, he was the youngest councilmember in the city's history. he is the son of mexican immigrants. welcome back to democracy now! talk about the significance of the struggle in your city, and what people are facing across the country as we see a flu epidemic like we have not seen -- i think here in new york last week, two more children died. the critical point here is people going to work when they are sick and that sickness infecting others. councilmember casar: take so much for having me on. havee era of trump, we seen consistent attacks against people's basic safety and their health care, but also in this time we have seen the resistance
go local, and city after city has stood up and demand that a higher minimum wage, demanded protections for immigrants, and in this case are demanding paid sick days so that people don't have to choose between their job and taking care of their health, or taking care of their child. so, we are poised in just a couple of days to be the first city in the south to pass a paid sick days policy and inspire many municipalities across the south to start taking care of health, evennity's though we are under attack, and taking care of our own worker's basic rights. juan: what you say to some of the opponents of your legislation right now saying you are rushing this through without sufficient hearings to discuss the potential impact on businesses in austin? what is your response? are theember casar: we
only wealthy nation on the planet that is not a federal protection for sick days. it was in 2015 during the state of the union then president barack obama demanded seven sick days for every single american worker. it has been a long battle against misinformation from the big business lobby that continues to spread lies and how this will hurt the american economy, but it has been proven in city after city that paid sick leave is good for the economy as a whole. we have to continue to fight brothers-funded organizations that say they are about freedom, but the argument some of the same arguments you heard against the eight-hour workday, child labor hood -- child labor law. cities, local governments have not been as bought off by this big, corporate, right-wing
money, so we have a city council advancing a very ambitious bill to give every worker in our city eight days of paid sick days no matter who your employer is. amy: i wanted to read from our colleague's piece in "the guardian." clintonntioning the family and medical leave act from 25 years ago where u.s. workers got the right to unpaid it took, she writes another decade for some to win paid sick leave. when san franciscans approved a ballot initiative for private employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. 14 million workers, 32 municipalities, nine states. casar, in austin, can you talk about the group that is
funded by the koch brothers that led the assault on obamacare that is targeting movements across the country to trying to ensure that workers can get paid sick leave. how are you taking them on in austin? the nfibmber casar: uses a cookie-cutter approach. just last month, they fought to block a paid sick law in maryland, but the maryland legislature successfully passed the sick leave law. here in the south, they have focus not just on opposing city councils, but in trying to recruit cronies in state legislatures where they have funded money to republicans to take away paid sick days even if they are passed by a local city council. just yesterday, a local state
lawmaker aligned with these right wing corporate groups like next year,edge that even if the austin city council passed sick days, he would file a bill next year to take the sick days away, but instead of shying away from the fight we are heading headlong into that battle because we know paid sick days are a popular issue and they will have to rip that out of our hands, and we will fight to not allow them to do that because that is part of the resistance we see occurring in city after city. these groups, as revealed in the "guardian" article this week are not representative for small businesses. they are funded largely by organizations like koch industries. you in theted to ask little time we have left -- president trump unveiled his new budget proposal yesterday, and it was really astounding, not
only the huge deficits, but what he was planning to do in terms of infrastructure. many people were expecting there would be this huge windfall from repatriated profits of american companies that would help to fund a huge infrastructure program. his proposal basically calls on the cities and the states to fund a good portion of infrastructure programs with private/public partnerships, and the federal government only giving about $200 billion over 10 years for this -- four infrastructure. your response, as a city councilman, often, or the state of texas, being as to put up most of the money that's being asked to put up most of the money -- austin, or the state of texas, being asked to put up most of the money. councilmember casar: this is a asking others to
do the work while he takes credit for it. the $1.5e asking about trillion number. he is talking about having local jurisdictions pay for that. he wants to put the burden on cities who largely can only tax homeowners and local commercial development. he is sane i will have you pick up the tabs and pay more for -- he is saying i will have you pick up the tabs and pay more for crumbling infrastructure, and he will get the credit. the only if a structure he has proposed that is new is the hateful monument -- the only structure he has proposed that is new is the hateful monument of a border wall. he is proposing at most $130 billion for our cities and is asking us to pick up the 1.5 chilean dollar have -- $1.5 trillion cab. -- tab. amy: thank you for being with us, this is democracy now.